Author: Selina Sen
Price: INR 399
Zoon by Selina Sen is a beautiful read on Kashmir, love and longing.
Yes, before you ask, zoon is an actual word. It means moon in Kashmiri and is a popular name for girls in the Valley.
Our Zoon is the 16th century Kashmiri queen, poet and musician, Habba Khatoon. She is the protagonist of Bollywood director Shantanu Rai’s magnum opus. And by and by, we also realise that Zoon is a metaphor for the Kashmir Valley, which is, today, marred by curfews, barricades, despair and immense anger.
It’s the late 1980s, and Kashmir is a paradise for tourists. Rai transports his entire crew, including an internationally acclaimed film personality, to the romantic landscape of the Valley to shoot Zoon. Joya, freshly graduated from film school, is also part Rai’s production unit. She is to work alongside Rashid, a young Kashmiri historian.
At the face of it, they make an odd pair. But they soon find themselves irresistibly drawn to each other, while Kashmir serves as the perfect backdrop. Until a shocking incident of terrorism alters their lives forever. The shoot is abandoned, the Valley is gripped by terrorism and militancy and Zoon once again lies buried in the forgotten pages of history.
A decade later, Joya is inspired to complete Zoon and returns of Kashmir. She is there to make amends. To say that it is a struggle is an understatement. But Joya is determined. And perhaps, it is only Zoon that she lives and breathes for.
I enjoyed Zoon. I savoured all the bits set in Kashmir and Joya’s emotional turmoil felt like my own. There’s despair and disappointment all around but love keeps her intact. Just the very thought of it. It was ephemeral. But it was all she had. Perhaps, it was all she needed. And Zoon is her victory.
Read it for Joya and for Habba Khatoon. But also read Zoon for Kashmir and its despair.
Learn more about Zoon.